BAY LAKE, FL — (03-11-22) — Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized to LGBTQ+ employees on Friday, and announced Disney would pause all political donations in Florida to the GOP following a backlash of his lack of response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” Chapek wrote in an email sent to staff on Friday. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”
The statement came after an intense backlash to Disney’s response to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, which passed the GOP controlled State house on Tuesday.
The bill prohibits teachers and staff from having classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity with students from kindergarten to third grade. The bill also claims to give parents more access to their children’s education and health records.
The legislation also gives parents the ability to sue their child’s school district if they believe the policy is violated.
While Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek had criticized the “Don’t Say Gay Bill’ before it was passed, he fell short of actually condemning it, and did not announce a plan to pause donations to Florida lawmakers.
Chapek changed his tune during Disney’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday once the bill had already passed, stating that the company had originally planned to engage “directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle” to condemn the bill.
In his Friday email, Chapek admitted he “missed the mark in this case,” adding that he is still “an ally you can count on.”
“I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community,” Chapek concluded, adding, “I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.”
Review BobChapek’s full statement below:
To my fellow colleagues, but especially our LGBTQ+ community,
Thank you to all who have reached out to me sharing your pain, frustration and sadness over the company’s response to the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Speaking to you, reading your messages, and meeting with you have helped me better understand how painful our silence was. It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.
Our employees see the power of this great company as an opportunity to do good. I agree. Yes, we need to use our influence to promote that good by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all.
Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states. We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values.
And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review. But, I know there is so much more work to be done. I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally. You will hear more about our progress in the coming weeks.
I truly believe we are an infinitely better and stronger company because of our LGBTQ+ community. I missed the mark in this case but am an ally you can count on—and I will be an outspoken champion for the protections, visibility, and opportunity you deserve.
Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
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